The Gloomhaven Diaries – Organisation

Ladies and Gentlemen, boys and girls, say hello to the largest, most expensive game in my collection. GLOOMHAVEN!


My Gloomhaven setup compared to one standard Maddie.

This game folks, it’s just huge! I haven’t even played it with my group yet but I’ve already spent a large amount of time smiling like a loon as I punched sheet after sheet after gorgeously illustrated map tiles, monsters and tokens and tore open deck after deck of cards, coming across some mysteries along the way.

How does a reviewer like myself go about tackling a game like this? Honestly I have no idea so I thought I would start a little series that I will update from time to time with how my group are getting on, resources I have found useful etc.

Let’s begin.

Cracking the Seal

Weighing it at just over 9kg your certainly get a lot of bang for your buck. Opening the box up you are greeted by an overwhelming amount of stuff!


Chunky rulebook on top hides the loads of cardboard, boxes, dials and cards underneath that are going to need a good amount of organisation and there are loads of ways to go about this. Let’s start out with the budget solution I initially went for.

Budget solution

First of all credit to this particular article that I found very useful on sorting the game out in a logical fashion for my first trial playthrough. I started off by punching out the cardboard layers, all 18 of them, very carefully. I did this in a number of passes, starting with the smaller counters, then the odd shaped small dungeon scenery, monsters and finally the dungeon tiles themselves.

As I punched out the smaller tokens they went into a couple of plano style boxes and then eventually one box as I sorted it out better.


When it came to the monsters I went for the envelope solution on the link above putting the AI cards, tokens and statistic card for each monster in one envelope and then writing the name of the monster on the tab. This seems like a really good solution to aid in faster setup. The cards I mostly just cracked open, sorted for my first playthrough and then put back in the container in the bottom of the box. I left all the minis and character boxes alone.

The dungeon tiles were put into a expanding file folder, though the one I initially used was a bit on the skinny side so I had to buy something a little larger, which you can see perched on top of my box in the featured picture for this article. The end product looked a little like this:


This was really not a bad solution and since I had the plano boxes already seemed to work out quite well. Were it not for some very generous friends I would have been totally happy with this. However…

Smell the MDF

My very generous friends Iain and Megan Galloway bought the Basically Wooden organiser for me, and I loved it as soon as I saw it. Once I had it I started rearranging everything around this and I am really happy with the results. I’ve probably lost a little bit of functional setup in that the monsters, their AI cards and their standees are now seperated but I think I’ll gain a lot of time in general setup and teardown.


There is actually a lot more space in the card boxes in this particular organiser than I needed and initially I didn’t use the largest of the card dividers. I quickly realised though that I wanted to sleeve the character ability cards and so the extra cards for each character would need a home outside of the particular class box, which the larger box is perfect for. It would be my one criticism of the quality of the components is that the character cards don’t feel very nice to hold, hence my desire to sleeve them. I will also be sleeving the monster AI decks and combat decks as they will get shuffled relatively frequently.

One thing that organising in this way revealed to me was a sneaky little surprise under the organiser that comes with the game. This was yet another thing that made me smile at the sheer audacity of the game:


First Impressions

I had a blast playing through the first scenario by myself, just to get a handle on the rules. I cracked open the Tinkerer and the Brute and they proved to be a good little combo to handle the dangers of the Black Burrow, and I thoroughly recommend doing this as it gave me a great intro to how to play. The core system seems really strong and I am looking forward to properly getting to know a character class and figure out the nuances of how to play it.

The rulebook for Gloomhaven is good considering the number of individual systems that the game contains. Although the game is fairly complex mechanically it feels very lean in its design, nothing I’ve seen so far screams that it shouldn’t be there and could have easily been removed.

I’m looking forward to diving into Gloomhaven: it’s secret envelopes, mysterious character classes and world of dungeon delving. I’ve been overjoyed by what I’ve encountered so far and the fact that it is one guys vision that he made real through Kickstarter should give real hope to all the designers out there who have a mad idea they want to make real.

Iain McAllister

Tabletop games reviewer and podcaster based in Dalkeith, Scotland.

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